If you’re ready to jump into content production and want to start writing right away, I understand. But at some point, you’ll need to define why you create content and what you’re trying to achieve with it. The decisions you make in this chapter will give you a strong foundation for your content marketing plan — and make you stand out as a content publishing guru.
Use a diverse content marketing strategy as part of your overall content strategy and split test to continually refine your approach. For example, Product A might see a good response to video marketing, and Product B might sell more through an infographic. Specific types of content might work better for lead generation or instant sales while others might work best for improving follower growth. Look at your various products and services and ensure you have a multifaceted strategy to use content in an effort to sell each. Test a variety of strategies to see which options work best.
NewsCred’s inaugural #ThinkContent Awards celebrate best-in-class content marketing brands. Their approaches are fresh, innovative, and creative. Even better, these brands have found solutions to some of content marketing’s most pressing issues, including using personalization to give people the right content at the right time, leveraging new content formats, and measuring ROI.

“Content is the emotional and informational bridge between commerce and consumer. Building that bridge requires more than a budget, editorial calendar, and vision. It requires people who care, who love content, and what it can do for people. Not just what it can do for revenue, but rather how it helps people live their lives.” – Jay Baer, Convince & Convert


The Nike team did everything in its power to ensure that the feat was successful. They picked the perfect place – Italy’s Monza F1 track – for its ideal altitude, facility, and weather conditions. The athletes never had to stop for water; instead, perfectly measured amounts of optimal runner juice were distributed to them on the go. An electric car and a team of 30 pacers were on hand to ensure they maintained just the right speed. Oh, and each runner wore a pair of Nike’s specially engineered Zoom Vaporfly Elite racing shoe.


Similarly, USAA launched “The Money Drill” podcast in 2016 as an experiment to attract younger audience members while delivering financial content in an easy, engaging way. It was worth it; the program was met with almost immediate success, and, nearly two years on, draws 24,000 plays per month. "The Money Drill" also gave USAA's content marketing team a major internal win.
Next, do some research and learn more about your target audience. What are their goals? What do they already know about banks and personal finances? At this stage, it’s also helpful to take a look around at the competition and see what they are doing. You don’t want to copy your competition, but you do want to produce content that’s much better and much more useful.

This past year, First Round launched First Search, which curates the best advice from technology thought leaders. "It's a database of extremely high-quality, curated advice about all aspects of building companies, pulled from across the web and organized to help you find exactly what you need when you need it," explains Maddie Hall, First Search's Product Manager, in Medium. The plan is that First Search will evolve into personalized discovery experience for every user – which will further help First Round achieve its content marketing goals.
But Barclaycard isn't stopping there. This past year, it launched The Fast Track, an impressive, interactive online course for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Each of the five learning modules spotlights a local business, plus video, audio, written content, and downloadable guides. Module 3, for instance, is on "Building profile and customer loyalty," featuring the owners of Blok London, a boutique class-based gym, and how it's competing in a saturated fitness industry.
6. MOZ: Smart thinking for doing business digitally. I’ve turned to the MOZ blog for years when I have a question about the latest Google search algorithm or mobile search statistics. MOZ continues to innovate and use data to provide readers with knowledge, not just conjecture. I love this infographic showing 2015 year-in-review-data about the volatility of search.

Although native advertising might not look like marketing, the content should explicitly state that it was provided by the advertiser. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines for all advertising emphasizes transparency and includes stipulations that advertising claims must be truthful and supported by evidence. The more content marketing is similar in format and topic to the publisher's editorial content, the more important a disclosure is, in order to prevent deception.


Pratik Dholakiya is the Founder of The 20 Media, a content marketing agency specializing in content & data-driven SEO, and co-founder of MoveoApps, a mobile apps development company. He regularly speaks at various conferences about SEO, Content Marketing, and Digital PR. As a passionate marketer, he shares his thoughts and knowledge in publications like Entrepreneur, The Next Web and Fast Company. Onalytica has named Pratik one of the top content marketing influencers three years in a row. Recently, Pratik has been awarded one of the 100 Smartest Digital Marketers of India by World Digital Marketing Congress.
Great article Sarah. I think that a key theme all of these great content marketing strategies have in common is humour; humour has universal appeal and is a very effective way of getting audiences to talk about and share your content. Of course your content marketing strategy needs to be comprehensive and well executed, and for businesses without the staff capacity I would recommend outsourcing your digital marketing needs to skilled freelancers.
28. Home Depot: Spreading seasonal knowledge. Home Depot shares excellent content year-round, but I especially admire how their content is hyper-focused on what’s top-of-mind for customers in the changing seasons. Energy-efficiency during the holidays, selecting a Christmas tree, and how to create a wreath were all recent articles as I wrote this post in late December. To ensure timeliness, Home Depot is always thinking ahead to the next few seasons and anticipating customers’ future needs — a great reminder for all brands who create content.

Setting a theme also helps you create several streams of content. For example, if my theme for the month was content strategy, I could turn each of these five steps into their own blog post. Then I could create additional content like a sample content calendar or audience analysis spreadsheet to supplement each post that readers could download for free.
And from the looks of Here, Away’s impeccably cool, new digital magazine, it's not kidding around. A curated selection of hip photography and the occasional illustration invites readers to explore everything the site has to offer, with striking typographical choices drawing attention directly to the headlines (each appearing in a distinct yet complementary font).
Whether in a team or on your own, be realistic about your time. If blogging once a week and sending a newsletter twice a month is the most you can manage, don’t shoot for any more than that. Setting yourself up for failure breaks trust with your audience that expects what you’ve promised. You don’t want burnout here, you want a streamlined process that works for your schedule.
Content marketing…is the art and science of attracting an audience toward a brand and it’s website, then inspiring that audience to take action. This is done through the publishing, promoting and measuring of content. The form of the content is often written text, but may also be video, audio, diagrams. The function is often educational or useful, but may also be entertaining. Content marketing contrasts with advertising, which seeks to interrupt or distract an audience with a brand’s message. – Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media
3. Interviews: While many media companies use interviews as the core of their content offerings, take a page from Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, who specifically extends his on-air interviews to be used as unique web-only content....Consider talking to key people related to the topic. For many businesses, this means your employees, as well as outside experts.
What you can do about it: By creating a unique, shareable experience, Coke basically inspired its audience to do the marketing for the company. People get excited to find their name or their friend’s name on a can of Coke at the store — so excited that they end up posting pictures of the cans on their Facebook and Instagram accounts. Personalize your content in a way that resonates with your audience.
It’s important that every piece of content has a Call-to-Action (CTA) that’s direct and brand-focused – otherwise, your content isn’t really likely to generate leads. The cool part about social marketing, however, is that you can get creative with this. Instead of just saying, “Buy this product,” for example, you can offer a free e-book or trial offer to let users have access and decide for themselves whether or not your product or service is valuable.
Want to get inspired, or get a better understanding of what killer content marketing looks like? We’ve compiled 75 of our favorite content efforts into our latest e-book, Get Inspired: 75 (More) Content Marketing Examples. Updating one of our most popular e-books of all time, this year’s collection illustrates best practices for a wider range of tactics and formats – from fresh takes on content marketing mainstays like blogs and microsites to next-gen innovations that capitalize on the latest digital media technologies and trends.

My husband was in this camp until he told me about a newsletter that covers trends affecting financial markets. He looks forward to receiving it each day. He explained that the newsletters didn’t have anything to do with the funds the broker was selling, but the information was solid and valuable – and it was useful research for the investments he makes.
Stitch Fix is also a social media powerhouse, especially on Pinterest. Its Pinterest account has more than 1 million followers, but it finds a lot of value in encouraging users to create boards of their own as well. In fact, following customers on the network helps the Stitch Fix stylists to get insights about the looks that its customers like most.
I use a combination of personal branding, consistent social audience building, and support in creating authentic and ongoing thought leadership content. I’ve done it for myself. I’ve done it for the companies I’ve worked for. I’ve helped activate hundreds, even thousands of thought leaders to tell better stories. I’ve done it for numerous clients. And I can do it for you. 
Yes! The point of your content is to be seen, read, heard, and, most importantly, shared, so what good is your content if it’s never seen? Research has shown that countless brands who develop and follow a content marketing strategy consider their content marketing efforts to be more successful, found content marketing in general to be less challenging, and were later able to justify a higher content marketing budget that allowed them to invest in higher quality content.
Since then, Marriott has delivered on that goal, with many of its brands releasing bespoke films dedicated to further their reputations and drive revenue. The 2015 short film, "French Kiss," for example, drove more than $500,000 in Marriott bookings in less than 60 days. Renaissance Hotels has released two seasons of "The Navigator’s Table with Andrew Zimmern," which highlights the chef meeting with tastemakers in different cities. Courtyard by Marriott showcases its status as the official hotel for the NFL through a video series that has racked up more than 1 million YouTube views.
Content marketing is a form of digital marketing in which brands develop an always-on relationship with customers through content that is non-promotional and provides value at every interaction. Content marketing has evolved from being just blog posts and editorial strategies. It’s now a holistic approach that relies on a broad range of digital marketing tactics such as email, social media, SEO, and paid distribution to reach a target audience. 

“The difference between “marketing with content” and content marketing is a digital publishing platform that your brand owns. Creating an article for a publisher. Or an ebook. An ad. Or sales collateral. These are not content marketing. Content marketing means committing to publishing content people actually want. On a platform you own.” – Michael Brenner, Marketing Insider Group
By 2014, Forbes Magazine's website had written about the seven most popular ways companies use content marketing.[16] In it, the columnist points out that by 2013, use of content marketing had jumped across corporations from 60% a year or so before, to 93%[17] as part of their overall marketing strategy. Despite the fact that 70% of organizations are creating more content, only 21% of marketers think they are successful at tracking return on investment.

According to Content Marketing Institute, 65 percent of the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy. A simple content marketing assessment can help companies identify their primary goal and design a successful content strategy to meet it. As strategy becomes more important, companies will need the right tools to align priorities and document their plans. 

In recent years, content marketing has exploded, with 89% of B2B marketers currently using content marketing. The reason? The internet. The shift to online media, and more recently, to mobile, means that audiences are consuming content in new and savvy ways. This has led to brands big and small developing comprehensive content strategies with allocated marketing budgets.
11. House of Cards: The alternate Frank Underwood reality. Netflix’s political drama House of Cards adopts the marketing mindset that Frank Underwood and HoC characters are totally real. With a full election website and commercial that aired during a presidential debate, you forget that these people are acting — and isn’t that the whole point of TV? House of Cards creates a steady stream of content build-up to generate excitement for the new season. It’s a great example of how a few key content pieces released strategically can drum up anticipation for a big launch.

When content marketing started becoming increasingly popular, it was believed by some that content marketing would be a passing fad, among others given the huge increase of content created. Early observers and practitioners called this the ‘content marketing backlash‘. Another term – that expressed this sentiment, was introduced later and was contested by Joe Pulizzi – was ‘content shock‘.


According to Brafton, “83% of digital marketers plan to increase audience engagement and promote brand visibility through native ads.” If you want to join them as part of your content marketing strategy, make sure your ad is consistent with your other content. Above all, native ads should meet the needs of your readers and engage the audience, just like your other content does.
Companies need to get creative and enthusiastic about getting their content in front of the right people. Passive distribution — or, worse, distribution you do as an afterthought once you realize no one is engaging with your content — won’t cut it. Don’t let your investment in content go to waste by sitting on some of your most valuable marketing assets.
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